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May 16, 2022

Brown takes Tas protest laws to High Court

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Bob Brown, right, about to be arrested in the Lapoinya State Forest. Photo from Bob Brown’s Facebook page.
Bob Brown, right, about to be arrested in the Lapoinya State Forest. Photo from Bob Brown’s Facebook page.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown wants the High Court to scrap Tasmania’s anti-protest laws, which he says are undemocratic and undermine people’s rights.

The landmark case, due to begin in Canberra on Tuesday, stems from Dr Brown’s arrest while filming a video about an anti-logging protest at Lapoinya State Forest in Tasmania’s northwest in January 2016.

While police eventually dropped the criminal charges, the conservationist and former senator faced fines of up to $10,000 and four years’ jail if found guilty of refusing to leave a business area while conducting the protest.

‘We are concerned by government moves around Australia to take aim at environmentalists in particular because logging, mining and other resource extractors know they cannot win their argument fairly and squarely on the merits,’ Dr Brown says in a statement.

The Human Rights Law Centre has filed submissions to the court supporting Dr Brown’s case, arguing Tasmania’s laws are intended to shut down vital debate and prioritise business interests above the rights of protesters.

‘Unfortunately, Australia is not immune from the global trend of governments limiting protest rights,’ the centre’s legal advocacy director Emily Howie said in a statement on Monday.

‘This case is important because it gives the High Court the chance to determine the extent to which Australians’ speech and protest rights are protected under the Australian Constitution’

Dr Brown received more than $110,000 in donations to assist with his legal fees.


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